Friday, February 25, 2005 
                 
Aznar to high court:....... Admit Villarin's tale 
by
Jhunnex Napallacan
    
Correspondent  

      The lawyers of Josman Aznar have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to admit in evidence an affidavit of former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI 7) director Florencio Villarin.

      Villarin's account of the initial police investigation on the missing Chiong sisters in July 1997 should be considered by the SC in ruling on the merits of his motion for reconsideration, said lawyers Francisco Chavez, Luis Angel Aseoche and Noel Babaran.

      In their reply to the Office of the Solicitor General's comment that Villarin's "late statement" should be given no weight, Aznar's lawyers insisted on a new trial to present new evidence.

      "Truth must not be suppressed, the defense lawyers said. Atty. Villarin's affidavit provides additional disturbing insights that put into serious doubt the conviction of here-in accused-appellant Aznar."

      "Therefore, it is only proper that Atty. Villarin's affidavit be given due consideration by the Honorable Court in the fair and just determination of the case," they said in their reply last February 14.

      Aznar had asked the Supreme Court to reconsider his conviction and death sentence.

      On Feb. 3, 2004, the SC not only upheld the decision of the late Judge Martin Ocampo convicting Aznar and six others of kidnapping Marijoy and Jacqueline Chiong, but also upgraded the sentences of six of them from double life terms to death.

      Besides Aznar, Juan Francisco Larraņaga, Rowen Adlawan, Alberto Caņo, Ariel Balansag, and James Andrew Uy were sent to death row.

Only James Anthony Uy, brother of James Andrew, a minor at the time of the abduction, was spared the death penalty and sentenced to life in prison.

                                SWAY RULING
      Aznar's camp believes the affidavit of former NBI regional director Villarin, who executed it in Aznar's defense, could sway the court ruling in its favor.       

      The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) had earlier assailed Villarin's affidavit, branding it as "nothing but self-congratulatory allegations".

      Chavez and his law firm partners cited "seven mistakes" allegedly committed by the OSG in assessing Villarin's affidavit.

      They said:
       --- The OSG cannot question when Villarin executed the affidavit (on Feb. 27, 2004)  even  if  the crime

crime was committed in 1997. As early as May 4, 1999, Villarin had already expressed apprehension over the conduct of the Chiong case investigation.

       ---The OSG had run out of arguments when it branded Villarin's affidavit as nothing but self-congratulatory allegations.

      ---The OSG distorted some facts when it claimed that Villarin had acknowledge that the body found in Carcar ravine was that of Marijoy. The identity of the corpse was never settled because the regional trial court denied Aznar's right to present additional evidence.

      ---The OSG read out of context Villarin's affidavit when it claimed that Villarin had admitted that Aznar was already a "first-grade suspect" in the beginning of the investigation. Villarin said Aznar was first arrested for possession of shabu and firearms, and that police listed him as a drug user frequenting the Ayala Business Park in Cebu City. But there was no evidence linking Aznar to the kidnapping and murder of the Chiong sisters.

      ---The OSG did not go over the entire length and breadth of Villarin's affidavit when it claimed that Villarin did not fault the police in the conduct of the investigation, when in fact, he really castigated the police and the prosecution.

      ---Villarin was clearly stating the facts that the lawyers and the police officers who caused the conviction of the respondents got promoted. Therefore the OSG could not claim that Villarin wanted to tell the public that he deserved the promotion rather than those promoted. 

      --- The OSG should not blame the defense for the inability of Villarin to testify because it was the prosecution who shut him out of the case.

                              NO CA REVIEW
      The SC earlier denied Larraņaga's motion to have his case reviewed by the Court of Appeals (CA).

      In a two-page resolution dated Jan. 11 but released only recently, the high court denied "for lack of merits" the motion for reconsideration of Larraņaga, a scion of the powerful Osmeņa clan, for the court to reverse its resolution on Sept. 21, 2004.

      In that resolution, the tribunal denied two petitions filed by Larraņaga's lawyers -- one calling for the referral of the case to the CA and the other, a motion for oral arguments.

      SC Clerk of Court Luzviminda Puno said that yesterday's resolution did not deal with the Larraņaga's main motion to have his conviction overturned.

      "The decision on that might be released soon. The court has already decided on his other motions like this one," Puno said.

      She said that while the tribunal had ruled that the CA should review death penalty cases, "it is still within the high court's discretion to decide if it wants to review a particular case."

NOTE:   THE ABOVE TEXT IS THE FAITHFUL REPRODUCTION OF THE ORIGINAL
                DOCUMENT REFORMATTED FOR  CLEARER APPRECIATION.                    
 

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